Animated Star 17th Annual Key West Literary Seminar Animated Star
January 7-10, 1999
Writers' Workshops - January 11-14, 1999
The American Novel, January 7-10, 1999 JAMAICA

"The impulse to possess is alive in every heart, and some people choose vast plains, some people choose high mountains, some people choose wide seas, and some people choose husbands; I chose to possess myself."
Jamaica Kincaid
"My mother died at the moment I was born, and so for my whole life there was nothing standing between myself and eternity; at my back was always a bleak, black wind. I could not have known at the beginning of my life that this would be so, I only came to know this in the middle of my life, just at the time when I was no longer young and realized that I had less of some of the things I used to have in abundance and more of some of the things I had scarcely had at all. And this realization of loss and gain made me look backward and forward: at my beginning was this woman whose face I had never seen, but at my end was nothing, no one between me and the black room of the world. I came to feel that for my whole life I had been standing on a precipice, that my loss had made me vulnerable, hard, and helpless; on knowing this I became overwhelmed with sadness and shame and pity for myself."
from "The Autobiography of My Mother"
JAMAICA KINCAID was born and educated in St. John's, Antigua, in the West Indies, but moved to New York City when she was 16 in 1966. She now lives with her husband and children in Vermont. Her stories have appeared in "The New Yorker," "Rolling Stone" and "The Paris Review."

Ms. Kincaid's first book, "At The Bottom Of The River," which Plume reissued in January 1992, was nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award and went on to win the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. Her second book, "Annie John," published by Plume in 1986, is the story of a young girl's coming of age in the West Indies. Susan Kerney, writing in "The New York Times Book Review," thought Annie John's story so "touching and familiar it could be happening in Anchorage, so inevitable it could be happening to any of us, any time, any place. And that's exactly the book's strength, its wisdom, its truth."

Jamaica Kincaid Of her own literary origins, Ms. Kincaid has said, "It would seem a bit odd for someone like me, coming from the place I come from, not to be interested in what you call richness of description." ("New York Times," April 7, 1985). Her third book, "A Small Place," published by Plume in 1989, is an extended essay about the shameful legacy of Antigua's colonial past written in language that soars above anger and her outrage. Michiko Kakutani of "The New York Times", in a review of "A Small Place," declared, "Ms. Kincaid writes with passion and conviction, and she also writes with a musical sense of language, a poet's understanding of how politics and history, private and public events, overlap and blur."

"Lucy" was praised by the "Wall Street Journal" as "Brilliant...Lucy" confirms Jamaica Kincaid as both a daughter of Charlotte Bronte and Virginia Woolf and her own inimitable self," and "USA Today" said, "Its emotional power is stunning... The lyric simplicity with which she tells this story makes it enormously moving."

Ms. Kincaid was a 1992 recipient of the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund's annual writers award and the 1997 Anisfield Wolf Book Award, which was established 60 years ago to recognize books that illuminate the rich diversity of human cultures. "The Autobiography of My Mother" was published in 1996 to much critical acclaim. Her most recent work, "My Brother" (Farrar Strauss, Fall, 1997) was nominated for the National Book Award.

Read an interview with Jamaica Kincaid from Salon Magazine.


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